The End Is Really The Beginning

Over the weekend my excitement and sense of victory was growing.

I was ever closer to finishing the first draft of one of my current WIP’s, Black Hare Valley. To recap, I had the idea for this book a few years ago. At the time, my son and I were both reading Stephen King’s It and enjoying the new film adaptations of the story. I suddenly had an urge to pay homage to the master of horror by penning a story set in a weird and eerie little town, where unlikely heroes (ie teenagers) are pitted against forces of evil. That was all I had. I wanted to create a town though and came up with the idea of Black Hare Valley. This was because I am rather obsessed with hares. Around this time we had also visited a well known iron age hill fort and after a bit of research on folklore and magic, my ideas started to grow. But what we needed first was a map. So, my son and I rolled out a long piece of paper and together created Black Hare Valley. It was so much fun, and as the town grew, so did my characters and their lives. That was as far as it went at the time. I was busy on other books and my son didn’t want to help write it. I folded up the map and tucked it inside the notebook alongside some ideas, research and character bios.

Around three years later, last February we had a 5 day power cut and a two week internet cut. This made it impossible for me to continue editing my 4-book series ready for release (The Day The Earth Turned) or work on what was my current WIP, the spin-off book from The Boy With The Thorn In The Side; working title At Night We Played In The Road…

With no TV or internet, surrounded by candles and fairylights, I decided to pick up that notebook and unfold that map. I had an idea of how and where to start the story and thought I would just kill some time by writing the first paragraph. The paragraph morphed into a chapter, followed by another, and another, and another. I was then fully immersed and addicted and before I knew it, I had filled a notebook and started another. Since then, I have been scribbling down this story most days. There was a three week break in May where I concentrated on editing priorities and the release of the book I co-wrote with author Sim Sansford, (Hangman’s Revenge.) Also, I was abit stuck.

I had reached a point where I seemed to be heading towards some sort of climax but at the same time, I wasn’t sure what it would be or how it would happen or even what it would mean. This stuck feeling was made worse by the fact I had not yet gone back and read through anything I had written. It’s easier to do this when using Word on the laptop – with a scruffy notebook and illegible handwriting, it’s a bit tricky. So I just kept going, adding notes, extra ideas and so on to the front of the first notebook where my planning and character bios were. One day on a long walk I got the ending in my head and it all made sense. I was nearing the finish line and it felt great!

Knowing how it would end spurred me on and I wrote several chapters last weekend, just trying to get it down. Finally, on Monday night I wrote the last chapter, the last paragraph and the last sentence, followed by those delicious, victorious words; The End.

I felt amazing. It always feels amazing to know you have got there. You didn’t give up. You battled through plot holes and writer’s block of varying degrees, time constraints, lack of energy and all the other books wanting you to work on them! I did it! I was so happy, so excited and I still am.

Now though, the real work begins. For the end is really the beginning. I have a town, some characters, (all of whom need fleshing out, particularly with work on their families and back stories) I have a plot I really need to check through, ideas I need to embellish, scenes I need to add and a whole lot more. In short, the second draft will feel like the real story is being written. What I have here in these five scruffy notebooks, written in my horrific handwriting, covered in question marks and lines and arrows and bubbles of thoughts, is a skeleton waiting to be fleshed out. Waiting to come fully alive. I have the bones of a story, the beginnings of characters, and the idea of a world.

The second draft is my favourite because you find out what you have done. At this point, I am excited and in awe and I feel a bit like someone else wrote it! Was that really me, filling notebook after notebook, at night, in the car, while cooking dinner, by candlelight? Yes, it was me, but I feel like the real me is the one who has to now pick this thing apart and make it shine, make it work. The real work starts now. Well, not immediately now because I am going to give myself a break from it to let it breathe, and so that I can pay the same level of crazed addicted energy to my other WIP.

The first draft is a slog; a hesitant crawl to the finish line plagued by self-doubt and blocks of all sorts. It’s a battle, no doubt. The second draft is seeped in victory but its where things start getting technical. I am really, really looking forward to it. I know there will be countless drafts after the second to really polish it up, respond to beta reader feedback, edit, revise, edit, proofread and so on. But the second draft is all mine. It’s me and this book alone in a room and I cannot wait to get started!

Character Interview: Darcie Duffield (Fortune’s Well Book 1 – Hangman’s Revenge)

To celebrate the release of Fortune’s Well Book 1 – Hangman’s Revenge we are sharing a couple of character interviews! Next up is Darcie Duffield, one of our main protagonists.

1. Who is your best friend?

I could tell you it’s Vicky Marshall, but that wouldn’t be completely true. My real best friend is my aunt Jenna… which is weird, because she’s dead. I know. Messed up. But sometimes I like to talk to her still. It makes me feel ok for just a minute.

2. Who is your worst enemy?

Well, that one’s easy – Jared Wheeler.

3. What do you think people think of you?

Unfortunately, I don’t think people think of me at all.

4. What do you wish people knew about you?

That I’m more than just good grades and good genes. There’s more to me than meets the eye. It sounds silly, but I feel like I’m meant to do great things.

5. What’s your biggest fear?

Losing myself and becoming exactly who they want me to be. But lately… lately I think my biggest fear is what will happen to my new friend, JJ Carson, if I can’t help him in time.

6. What’s your biggest hope?

My hope is for JJ and his mother to reconnect. Perhaps make up for all the lost time. Who knows, maybe I can do the same with my own mom…

7. What’s your biggest secret?

The girl in the mirror. I’m the only one who sees her and she sees me right back.

8. What is the worst thing you have done to another person?

I hurt someone. Bad. At least, I was part of what happened to them. Even worse I ran and covered up the truth. But sometimes bad people deserve bad things… right?

9. What kind of friend are you?

Loyal and fierce.

10. What are your worst habits?

I bite my lip pretty much whenever I’m anxious, or nervous, or just generally over thinking situations. It’s terrible. I’m surprised I have a mouth left at all!

11. What is one thing about yourself that you would change if you could?

I wish what was on the inside would shine through more. That people could see that before they see the rest of me.

12. What is one thing about yourself that you would never change?

I’m very inquisitive and that definitely comes in handy when I need it. I guess I must get that from my dad. He’s a head researcher for Bio Chem, a large pharmaceutical company.

13. Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

Right now? Any where but Fortune’s Well. There’s something about this place that I can’t put my finger on. But I will find out what it is. I know I will. It’s in my nature. And that scares me.

14. What is on your bucket list?

Not many people know this, but I love to write. I want to write this down someday, everything that’s happening with JJ and me. An epic adventure I can capture forever.

WE hope you enjoyed meeting our two teen heroes, JJ and Darcie! Here is the buy link if you would like to check out the book. It’s the first in a trilogy, and be warned, it’s wild ride! https://chantelleatkins.com/2022/05/24/character-interviews-jj-carson-fortunes-well-book-1-hangmans-revenge/

Welcome To Fortune’s Well: Book One Hangman’s Revenge is coming soon!

Fast on the heels of my recent release The Old Friend – A Collection of Tales and Poems, this Wednesday sees the release of the first book in the YA trilogy I’ve co-written with Sim Sansford. We are both incredibly excited that the moment is finally here after a whirlwind year of writing three books via Facebook messenger! It seems incredible that we are now about to welcome you into the strange town of Fortune’s Well and introduce you to our characters, JJ and Darcie.

I still can’t quite believe that we wrote three books together in such a short space of time – with very little planning, I might add! The majority of it was discussed and thrashed out within Facebook messenger. Sim had the original idea about lonely, misunderstood teens who discover they have special abilities and we decided to each create a character and then write alternate chapters from their points of view.

I went first and wrote the introductory chapter and my character JJ made his somewhat solemn entrance. At this point, we were not entirely sure where the story would lead us but we didn’t have to worry because the characters knew! Once they were fully alive, they just seemed to lead the way. What happened next was really a crazy whirlwind of messages and chapters flying back and forth between us.

Normally, I like to plan a book a bit before I start and then have a planning notebook running alongside the story as it unfolds, but our approach was a lot more haphazard than that. Yet it worked! I’ve never co-written anything before so this was a really interesting process and experience for me. I’ve always believed that talking about writing makes you want to write. It gets you excited, gets the ideas sparking and the passion running high. I often see this happening in the writing groups I run – people are unsure or hesitant or suffering from a block or a loss of confidence, and then all the talk and discussion and floating of ideas suddenly gets it all going again.

I think this is what happened with us and these books and it really felt quite magical. I mean, writing is magical anyway, it really is – ideas become stronger, characters become real people, plots develop and twist and turn and it all ignites together to create a story. A world.

With these books we had an idea, a concept about teens with powers hidden within them and that led us to the creation of Fortune’s Well and a far darker, twistier, grippping story than we had ever imagined. The town itself (based loosely on Sim’s home town of Dorchester) became a bigger part of the story than we first anticipated, opening up the possibility of prequels and sequels based there.

Whatever happens next, Sim and I have had the best time ever creating these stories. It was never supposed to be a trilogy, but it just kept going and I know we haven’t seen the last of these characters.

The book comes out on Wednesday 25th May and you can preorder via the link below if you are interested in finding out about what lies within Fortune’s Well and inside our our two teen protagonists.https://books2read.com/HangmansRevenge

Here is the blurb!

In the town of Fortune’s Well a dangerous storm is brewing, and two unsuspecting teenagers are standing right at the heart of it.

For JJ Carson, life has not been easy. His father is dead, his mother arrested for the murder, and he has been forced to live on the farm with his alcoholic uncle, Henry. Just when things could not get any worse, JJ discovers his living situation is not the only thing that makes him different from the other kids. A dark, swirling mist has made itself at home inside him and it is slowly changing him from the inside out.

Enter Darcie Duffield. Beautiful, popular, and incredibly misunderstood. Darcie is sick of the status quo and wants to make a difference. After a chance meeting with a strange boy at the river she becomes tangled in a web of lies and deceit as she tries to help save him from the darkness lurking within.

Why is this happening?
Where has it come from?

And why is Darcie the only one who can see it?